Islamic Finance Adviser Managing Director Allalah Consulting
AS A MANAGING DIRECTOR, WHAT ARE THE THREE CONCERNS ABOUT THE COMPANY’S FUTURE IN THE ISLAMIC FINANCE DOMAIN THAT KEEPS YOU UP AT NIGHT?
Talking about my three major concerns, which are also the ultimate goals of my practice. Allalah Consulting situated in the global Islamic finance domain, would include the bringing up of generations of qualified Islamic finance professionals, the creation of social influence especially Islamic microfinance to those who are in urgent need, as well as the innovation and implementation of Islamic FinTech. These three key areas are very crucial and somehow interrelated and correlated. The right people, the right intention, and the right technology, will ensure an Islamic
finance advisory practice including my firm, to move forward to a better tomorrow and provide viable
solutions to our audiences in the long run, under the current rapidly changing global context, which is full of opportunities and risks at the same time. Thanks to the continuous support from my team, clients, governments and business partners, my firm is progressing on the right track towards a more advanced Islamic finance sector.
THE WORLD IS RAPIDLY CHANGING, CORPORATIONS AND INDIVIDUALS ARE FACING UNCERTAINTY AND CHALLENGES. HOW IS ALLALAH CONSULTING EQUIPPED TO DEAL WITH THIS CRISIS AND PROVIDE PRACTICAL SOLUTIONS TO ITS CLIENTS?
Our globe is becoming more and more challenging to handle, even the basic survival. Allalah Consulting, including our team, our clients, our business partners and myself, are no exception and inevitably facing it. The only way to deal with such uncertainty is learning, learning and learning from others, both internal and external to your circle. In the 21st century, notwithstanding Islamic finance or conventional finance, there is no comfort zone, you always need to
think outside the box and stand on the shoes of your clients. Islamic finance education in terms of welldesigned certified courses, conferences, workshops and webinars (amid the pandemic right now) are very essential and helpful for practitioners like us. It is important to equip ourselves with the relevant knowledge and confidence through the exchange of abundant conceptual ideas, experiences and trends, such that we can be able to fine tune our approaches
in formulating feasible solutions to help solve our clients’ issues swiftly.
WHAT ARE THE FAILURES IN YOUR CAREER THAT YOU CHERISH THE MOST?
In between my long professional career as an employee and an owner, I had spend a few years trying something totally different from accounting and finance, which included running two online shops with my family, one for selling telecommunication devices, and the other for fashion, without any prior experience and network resources. In particular relating to reliable suppliers and logistics, which in turn encountered various business risks, including mistrust, and the whole venture became a complete failure. I cherish these gap years most because they taught me I should always engage in the business area as I possess the necessary foundation and am most familiar with. Such foundation and familiarity can always help you master the work you are doing and attain a favourable result as long as you focus on and commit to it.
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH DIFFERENT PERSONALITIES IN THE WORKPLACE AND IN PERSONAL LIFE?
In my view, everybody is the same, no matter if I get along with them in my personal life or in the workplace. There is no difference in terms of their gender, age, nationality, religious belief, and financial standing etc. It is true that everyone has their own character, value and attitude towards various matter, but I usually adopt an universal approach, that is, being a good listener with respect. I try to make use of Islam teachings in ordinary language with examples, regardless of whether they are a Muslim or a non-Muslim, and patiently communicate with them and come up with a consensus on a certain issue, in view to move forward to derive a positive outcome at the end of the day. People are rational in normal circumstances. You will get a good relationship with others as long as we can patiently exchange our
thoughts at first. This is the universal key to opening this lock and which is also the beauty of Islamic teachings.
THE READERS WOULD LIKE TO KNOW ABOUT SOMETHING YOU STRUGGLED WITH EARLY ON IN YOUR CAREER AND HOW YOU OVERCAME IT.
I started my professional career as a certified public accountant and a certified tax adviser after postgraduate studies more than two decades ago in Hong Kong. During my early career, I was fully occupied and overloaded by heaps of audit, tax compliance and advisory work, which had given me a lot of valuable practical experience but also sacrificed
my balanced lifestyle. Daily overtime work was a common practice in the old days. Religious belief and family support were the two engines that helped me overcome such work pressure. When I shifted from a professional firm to a multinational corporation environment, I faced hurdles due to lack of crosssectional and cultural project management skills. To get around internal communication and collaboration challenges, I had spent over half of my time in making
field trips to learn about the actual operation of the subsidiaries in different overseas countries, gradually building up cooperation relationships with colleagues, local consultants and government officials, thereby facilitating my management work from the headquarters in the long run. In those years, full support and understanding from top management and internal clients was very crucial.
IF YOU HAD MULTIPLE PROJECTS AND LIMITED TIME, HOW WOULD YOU MANAGE YOUR PRIORITIES?
With a best team of seasoned advisers in my practice, we have developed excellent communication and collaboration over the years. I am not worried about multitasking in the face of tight deadlines under my management framework. My usual approach is to divide my firm’s large client portfolio into several project segments, based on project nature and scale, geographical location, industry type, language requirements, and interpersonal relationship needed for clients and governments, etc., and assign the relevant projects to the most appropriate staff. With this peace of mind, I can spare my time to prioritise myself on more strategic and high-level management work on one hand, and focus on those most urgently needed by my clients, most meaningful (even small in scale) to the community, and most appropriate to be handled by me as the owner of the firm.
WHAT PERSONAL OR PROFESSIONAL ACCOMPLISHMENTS ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
The establishment of Allalah Consulting in Hong Kong in 2017 is undoubtedly both my personal and
professional accomplishment that I am always most proud of. Two decades of prior financial career in professional firms and multinational corporations were very rewarding, but running a practice of my own is definitely another story, which is full of challenges and satisfactions. Thanks to the hard work of my team of Islamic finance advisers comprising
a variety of backgrounds and nationalities, and more importantly, the full support of governments, regulators, clients, investors, bankers, business always comes from teamwork effort which derives satisfaction for both the producer and consumer. And the consumers are in the best position to recognise and applaud your success, especially the good deeds you have made.
WHO IS YOUR ROLE MODEL AND WHY?
Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) is always my role model for my present life and hereafter. His acts and words are filled with love, kindness and wisdom that lead me to the right path of my daily life, particularly flourishing my perspectives and approaches to develop my Islamic finance career. Learning from the Prophet’s practice, Tahajjud has become a very important component of my daily life, which always provides me with the closest linkage with Almighty Allah, thereby giving me the most energetic mental and physical condition to support my Islamic finance mission.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS?
I personally do not care about success as everyone’s potential to achieve excellent outcomes should be unlimited and never be capped. Individual success is nothing and should not be measured by fame or monetary means in any way. Team success, reflected by the value-added to a certain issue, however, is always worthy to be recognised and praised. Success always comes from teamwork effort which derives satisfaction for both the producer and consumer. And the consumers are in the best position to recognise and applaud your success, especially the good deeds you have made.
IF YOU COULD GO BACK FIVE YEARS, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
Islamic finance has been developing very rapidly since the last decade, if Allah gives me the chance of going back to five years earlier, I would definitely give my younger self an advice to seriously rethink about what is really the core of Islamic finance. Why such core can actually help out both Muslim and nonMuslim communities around the world, especially for the underdeveloped nations, and how I should better focus on and dig deeper into such core area, for
instance, Islamic microfinance, to accomplish more practical solutions in terms of Islamic finance for the well-being of the community over there.